Increase the 218 character filename length limit to open files in excel
Excel can't open files with full path lengths greater than 218 characters as documented in https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/213983. This is still a problem in Office 2016. It seems crazy that Excel can't open a valid file that the filesystem allows. People have been complaining about this since Office 2000. The thread below has over 11 thousand views and there are plenty others. Please fix this. http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2013_release-excel/sorry-unable-to-find/595333d0-1463-499f-967e-4da8ac2e2047
Thank you for your input on Excel’s filepath limit! We have included this feature as part of upcoming work.
David [Microsoft Excel]
The 260 vs. 256 characters expl;ained:
(Entire Answer quoted below.)
Maximum Path Length Limitation
In the Windows API (with some exceptions discussed in the following paragraphs), the maximum length for a path is MAX_PATH, which is defined as 260 characters. A local path is structured in the following order: drive letter, colon, backslash, name components separated by backslashes, and a terminating null character. For example, the maximum path on drive D is "D:\some 256-character path string<NUL>" where "<NUL>" represents the invisible terminating null character for the current system codepage. (The characters < > are used here for visual clarity and cannot be part of a valid path string.)
Now we see that it is 1+2+256+1 or [drive][:\][path][null] = 260. One could assume that 256 is a reasonable fixed string length from the DOS days. And going back to the DOS APIs we realize that the system tracked the current path per drive, and we have 26 (32 with symbols) maximum drives (and current directories).
The INT 0x21 AH=0x47 says “This function returns the path description without the drive letter and the initial backslash.” So we see that the system stores the CWD as a pair (drive, path) and you ask for the path by specifying the drive (1=A, 2=B, …), if you specify a 0 then it assumes the path for the drive returned by INT 0x21 AH=0x15 AL=0x19. So now we know why it is 260 and not 256, because those 4 bytes are not stored in the path string."
There are two separate issues stemming from a single problem.
The first is that Excel seems to have a 260 character limit for resolving a cell reference. The apostrophes and exclamation point in the sheet name all get added in and then seven more for the old style cell references (65536 rows, 256 columns) for 41 characters max, so 260-41 = 219. One character seems to be taken somehow by the Excel system leaving 218 characters to be safe, sort of, for the rest of the path to the file that holds the cell. Literal characters, apparently. If that 260 characters is exceeded, the cell reference won't be properly handled and so things could go very wrong.
So there's the problem, inside Excel.
The outer difficulty is that Excel doesn't save files, it has the operating system do it. So an operating system with no such problem saves anything valid to its own rules and limitations. Windows, for example, can use as many as 32,767 characters if YOU enable it to. ("Enable Win32 long paths" in the Local Group Policy Editor — where it says the "normal" 260 character limit even though Excels support bandies about "256" even though things add up to 259...)
Excel makes no check to see if you really have an issue, it just checks the path length against its hardcoded limit. You might be able to do a 250 character path, or 238, etc. with "the facts on the ground" but no...
Worse yet, experimentation on my computer before enabling the long paths had various files with no cells addressed in them, just a couple cells of text, failing to save and re-open with anywhere from 168 to 190 characters vs. the 218 promised. So... there's more here somewhere. Oh, local drive C, no network paths, I didn't want the vagaries there to affect the experimentation.
The aggravations mostly noted come from the totally outside problem that we now routinely have very long paths possible. Various programs that want you to buy them and collaborate roll their own" to enable longer paths, but they all vary, most likely due to each's own focus. A Balkanized world rather than the operating system simply providing and Excel working with it so middlemen don't have to figure it on their own.
Worse yet, some code inserted into Excel that would read an address as text, provide an alias for the path, if needed, maintain it until the file is closed, and then take the resulting string and regard that as an address could fix it all immediately. No major rewrite, just an insertion. (Lol, I know, "just a wee little insertion..." but really, it should actually be that.)
So even enabling the operating system only works for a program if it is "manifested" for it and wouldn't solve (doesn't solve) Excel's internal problem anyway.
Meantime, all those programs and services have likely got a way to give a location a short alias and one could use that. Take a few hundred characters off the path that way, let Excel see the short path, allow the Save, and then the environment program would trade out the alias for the real path and present it to the file system for saving. If they can't do that, they really need some complaints too!
But given MS's push at collaborative solutions, it would seem this is a thing that would be hugely important to them... oh wait... stuff like PowerApps doesn't have problems and would earn them a TON more money... sensible people should just pay up and everything would be great... things are much clearer now... poorer, but clearer..
Randy Walker commented
You know what is even worse. Microsoft in their infinite stupidity lets you go 400 characters in Teams, some other number in OneDrive, the filesystem is yet another, and Word and Excel still another. It is 2019, the core is still based in 1986. My suggestion is to get with the rest of the world, or at least up your **** to the level of the companies you bought cause they had a nice product....until you bought them.
While I hate Apple in every way imaginable, at least their OS won't start to copy a file if there isn't enough room.
Apparently owning the world means you don't have to have standards or step up to do better.
In response to your response on Feb 12th, 2019, do you know when this feature will be implemented? A rough estimate would be very helpful to gauge expectations.
Peter Whittaker commented
I can't believe this is still an issue. Please remedy it as soon as possible.
Please fix it asap.
We have complicated structures of folders in ours projects. Limit of 218 characters doesn't allow us migrate to Sharepoint and OneDrive with possibility to synchronizes files with local computers.
Philippe Soulard commented
The 218 characters limit is far too small, it should be significantly increased, and ASAP.
Performed a box migration to SharePoint and there are 160,000 affected files that can't be opened on Excel but are under 400 characters. What is the timing of this fix?
not sure how this was missed when excel is a core functionality. You guys are promoting moving users out of shared drives, but then providing limitations to users when 400 character limit is set on SharePoint online. It's causing issues for our users and needs to be highly prioritised.
fix this asap
Chris C commented
Please fix this as soon as you can. It is causing us a ton of issues with a recent migration to SharePoint/OneDrive.
Excelimus Prime commented
I find it interesting that this thread is "excelerating" with comments, but no additional color from MSFT on the timing of when a fix will be pushed through. ;-)
@David [Microsoft Excel]: do you know when this feature will be released?
Just like others said below, it will be very helpful that this problem will be solved as soon as possible.
Chris Ruffin commented
Please, fix this. This is a big problem. All of our client's documents which used to start with:
c:\users\betty\Bettys Tenant\Bettys Team Site - Documents\Files\LongPathNameGoesHere\excel.xls.
They were at the edge before but now I've moved them to the cloud, and they can't open their documents. Help!
I just checked my calendar and I can confirm that the year is 2019. In fact, in just over 6 months, it will be 2020. What a time to be alive.
So, it appears that the latest Excel for Mac (16.27) can't open a file whose pathname exceeds ~256 characters.
Is this a joke? Is this some sort of 8-bit retro April Fool's that someone forgot to turn off?
Do I need more RAM? I know Apple only let me put 16GB in this MacBook Pro but the new Mac Pro goes up to 1.5TB so is that what I need?
Is it my internet? I'm in Australia so my NBN only does 100Mb, I thought that was okay but maybe Excel needs more?
Aah it could be the monitor. My resolution is only 5120 × 2880 pixels, I just upgraded from VGA, is that the problem?
Or do I need to save this file on a floppy drive?
Anyway, hopefully someone can help me fix this problem. Thank you. Now, where's my Duran Duran cassette?...
Does anyone know if Google docs's spreadsheets have same limitation ? ;)
Neil Widdowson commented
Any update on when this is going to be fixed? I have an ever increasing number of phone calles about employees finding this a problem.
Please. For everyone else's sake. We have already moved to google sheets because of this reason and this reason only. It was a pain in the butt, but such a relief now that we can actually work in shared and synced environments.
I wanted to add my voice to this. I download survey results for a client who needs the files to be named a certain way. For the first time, I discovered that Excel has a naming issue. I could download the file, open it once, save and close it. But I could never open it again afterwards. What a great drama I have gone through!!
I discovered one solution for now that gets me through the project. Use an external drive - in my case - an SD card - and save Excel workbooks there. It's annoying but is workable. At least I can get to the data. A copy is also saved in the project folder too but I work off the SD card.
Really, in this day and age, this should not be happening. What is curious is the word docs with the same naming convention my client wants, open up just fine. Why is Excel a problem? Is it because it does calculations, unlike all other programs?
Also, I use the 365 subscription version. How different is that to a regular version of MS Office Pro?
E R commented
Unreal that this is STILL an issue even though someone from Microsoft replied saying it was going to be fixed. How difficult can this fix be? When is it rolling out? Is it part of an insider preview yet?